‘SparrowSong’ is part museum, part theater - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Arts & Life

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‘SparrowSong’ is part museum, part theater

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:52 pm

The Binary Theatre Company at Arizona State University will be the place to see a new theater production, entitled “SparrowSong.”

The performance is about a lonely girl who creates her own personalized solitude, and the audience is able to peek into the world she has created.

While the girl is in her confined quarters she invites a bird into her imaginative world, but due to her live area her new friend is unable to survive. She is then given the decision between her need of companionship and the bird’s need of survival.

What makes “SparrowSong” different from other traditional theater pieces is how co-creators Julie Rada, Megan Flod Johnson and Daniel Fine involve audience members. All three co-creators are in their second year of graduate school at ASU in the MFA program.

The three students seem to mesh together quite well, being that Fine is behind the scenes on interactive media elements, Rada is the performer, and Flod Johnson came up with the idea of “SparrowSong.” They originally started complying ideas together meeting casually over coffee and tacos, discussing different alternatives on how to bring the story to life.

Flod Johnson, who’s from the Twin cities, said there will be two parts to the show, one which consists of a short play and the other allowing the audience to walk through the set to see how the lonely girl created her environment.

“One-hundred percent of our goal is to have the audience walk through the installation, and that’s our challenge to see if the audience will want to interact,” Flod Johnson said. “We have been working with fire marshals, making sure that everything is flame-proof and safe.”

Fine, who’s originally from New Haven, Conn., said the play is an experimentation piece on storytelling for family audiences, and all three graduate students have been working on this particular project for a year now.

“‘SparrowSong’ will be the first show of the spring season at the Binary Theatre, and we are hoping to take it out to a public space,” Fine said. “This project is for an independent study course, so we are doing it inside the theater so we can control the environment space, play with the performer relationship and the relation with both technology and immersion interaction.”

Unlike most traditional theater pieces, “SparrowSong” engages audience members by allowing them to participate in arrange type of ways consisting of drawing chalk-like skylines on the wall, walking through the environment and capturing their movements to be seen on the walls by Kinect technology.

Rada, a Valley native, said that having interaction with the audience is not as simple as many might believe.

“Standard shows have the audience go, sit in a chair, the lights go down and something happens in front of them. We wanted to use new media as a provocation to invite people to interact with the installation and have the audience immersed in it,” Rada said. “I see this show as more of a scientific process, and this is round one of the whole process.”

For the future, the trio intends to take their piece to different performance outlets to share their story with a much broader audience.

Flod Johnson said they want to start scouting for the right location to find a happy medium where they can still tell the story but are able to adapt it for the place they are performing in.

Daniel Ochoa is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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